Monday, 8 April 2013

New Music Monday #47

Shaking The Habitual
by The Knife (2013)


The Knife for me, have always been like eating licorice. I adore licorice, but it’s something I’ll gorge myself on until I’m sick of it and then I won’t crave it for quite some time, but then, the craving eventually returns. Hence, Shaking the Habitual, the fourth studio album by the eccentric Swedish band, has come at a good time for me. At seven years since their last release Silent Shout, it comes “pre-craving” but “post-sick of it” and much to my delight introduces a more spacial, cinematic, tribal/military and ominous sound. With a sound that branches into new territory, will their new album still provide a sense of familiarity for current fans and will it alienate, or enamor current and future listeners?

The two opening tracks ‘A Tooth For an Eye’ (released as the album's second single) and ‘Full of Fire (the album's lead single), treat us with some fairly familiar territory and in traditional Knife fashion, they know how to get ones tail wagging, while at their core lies a deeply social and political message. The third track ‘A Cherry on Top’ gives us a taste for things to come. It’s sparse, infused with orchestral and oriental instrumentation and perhaps reminds me of songs from Bjork’s ‘Drawing Restraint 9’, Bjork being quite the pioneer in Scandinavian experimental pop herself.


Many songs on Shaking The Habitual could be equally at home as a sound track to an intense psychological thriller as they are on the album. As a whole the album employs a stark atmospheric approach, very instrumental and synth driven, such as the earlier mentioned, ‘A Cherry on Top’, and songs like ‘Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized’ (which itself at a whopping 19:02s is practically half a movie and is so vast it’s like a labyrinth of dark tunnels) and ‘Oryx’ (which is like a cluster headache of horns lasting a blistering 0:36s).

‘Fracking Fluid Injection’ (who’s soundscape makes me think of a lone child on a dark night, swinging on a swing, in the middle of nowhere, humming a creepy tune in time with the repetitive, rhythmic creeks of the swing. Terrifying) and ‘Networking’ (leads me on a manic musical chase where I’m being hunted by a swarm of killer bees towards a cliff). This new sound shows a trend of building grand and often intimidating visuals through the pure use of sound and only when necessary adding vocals for the required impact. While listening I’m regularly reminded of one of my favorite movies ‘The Cell.’ J-Lo is enough to inspire terror in any red blooded human.

The entire album to me, feels apprehensive and apocalyptic. It’s an extension of their previous work as shown in tracks like, ‘Ready to Lose’, ‘A Tooth For an Eye’, ‘Without You My Life Would be Boring’ and ‘Full of Fire’ but shows growth (not like a tumor) and a desire to clearly express their political and social stance both lyrically and by employing cinematic soundscapes to express the nervousness they seem to be feeling about the world’s current political and social climate. As a generally political album it stands alone in its unique execution and delivers an onslaught of aural stimulation, which successfully drew me into their electro world and punched me in the face with their message. Stand out tracks for me include ‘Without You My Life Would be Boring’, ‘Fracking Fluid Injection’, ‘Raging Lung’, and ‘Full of Fire.’

 Nayt Housman gives Shaking The Habitual four Shirley Manson's out of five...

P.S. To get the gist of the albums concept, have a peak the comic strip on the official website. Once you’ve read it and understand their angle, some of the more obscure lyrics can be interpreted a little easier (for The Knife that is).

by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (April 12, 2013)

Four years after the knockout that was It's Bliz! the Yeah Yeah Yeah return with their fourth LP, Mosquito. It's safe to say after hearing it that Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase have maintained their status as one of the leading alternative acts of the new millennium. Mosquito is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the top of their game, proving they still have some new tricks up their sleeves to impress fans old and new. While there's electronic touches throughout (and even a guest verse from rapper Dr. Octagon), at its heart Mosquito is pure rock and roll. Heavy one moment with anthemic sounds that make you want to jump up and down, a well placed quiet breather here and there and a closing 'Wedding Song' that somewhat mirrors the seminal track, 'Maps.' Yeah, Mosquito is everything you could want from a Yeah Yeah Yeahs record. And then some. 

'Sacrilege,' lead single and album opener, is dark, dreamy and a brilliant way to kick off proceedings. O's sinful howls and Zinner's bluesy guitar lines are all that's right in the world of music - enough to leave one completely entranced. The gospel choir chanting, "it's sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege, you say," is the delicious icing on the cake. If being sacrilegious sounds this good, I could consider renouncing all faith. All the heavy tracks leave me worshiping at the altar of Yeah Yeah Yeahs with singalong choruses that get the feet moving. 'Mosquito' and 'Slave' in particular stand out, with the latter sure to become a fan favourite throughout the year. Alright, you can throw 'Area 52' in as well. "I wanna be your passenger, Take me as your prisoner, I wanna be an alien, Take me please oh alien." It's not the deepest YYY's track, but it sure does make you want to dance in the way 'Heads Will Roll' did.  

Final track, 'Wedding Song,' finds Karen O a far cry from the old 'Maps' days. There's a lot of contentment to be found in lines like, "In flames I sleep soundly, With angels around me, I lay at your feet, You're the breath that I breathe." A standout ballad full of love that sends us on our way with a smile on our faces. 2013 is starting to deliver with some huge releases and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the cream of the crop. Go get Mosquito. You won't regret it.     

Matt Bond gives Mosquito five Eddie Vedder's out of five... 


Chelsea Hotel No. 2
by Lana Del Rey


"We are ugly, but we have the music." This is a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Chelsea Hotel, No. 2.' Ms Del Rey's voice holds a haunting longing that proves perfectly complimentary to the track and I don't think she's ever sounded better. Interestingly enough, Del Rey trades in the old Hollywood style for a completely understated video that sells her incredible performance. No bells. No whistles. It's not a great video in the cinematic sense, but in terms of keeping your focus 100% on 'Chelsea Hotel No. 2,' this video is a great success. 

Matt Bond gives the 'Chelsea Hotel No. 2' video three Britney's out of five... 

by The Love Junkies
Album: TBA (June, 2013)

That chick seems like a hoot and a half. Maybe she's born with it? Perth natives make three minutes fly by with the rocking good time that is 'Maybelene.' It's grungey goodness that will leave you wanting a whole lot more from the three piece. The video is ridiculous and fun, perfectly complimenting the track while pretty much inception-ing the idea that this is a band you're going to want to keep a close eye on throughout 2013. 

Matt Bond gives the 'Maybelene' video three Karen O's out of five...

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